I would like to introduce you to my son, Finley.
Finley is almost five years old. He is obsessed with dinosaurs and sharks, could eat chocolate cake for every meal, and can’t get enough of Teen Titans Go. His most ticklish spot is under his chin, he already plays drums better than I ever could, and he gives the absolute best hugs I have ever received. He also has the biggest brown eyes and most incredible smile you’ve ever seen, a completely pure heart, and passion for everything about life.
Tee from Wire & Honey
Finley also has autism and is nonverbal.
Finley is inquisitive, clever, intelligent, and loving. He has brought more joy to our lives than I ever thought possible, and he is so much more than a diagnosis.
Don’t get me wrong—life as the parent of a child with autism can be tough sometimes. However, that life also presents us with opportunities to experience tremendous joy through Finley’s achievements and progress.
Finley was diagnosed with autism almost three years ago. For the first year, my husband and I spent a lot of time focusing on all the parts of life that were going to be tougher for our sweet little boy. We grieved for the life we had imagined for him and experienced a lot of times when that grief was overwhelming. We still have those moments now, but they are rare. We have both learned to celebrate the mountains that Finley conquers instead, and the last three years have given us plenty to celebrate. However, the moment that changed our outlook was a fairly simple moment.
Tee: The Blue Envelope
Finley bumped his head.
I know that sounds simple. I know that you might think I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill. But that’s the point. Other parents’ mole hills? Mountains, to us. That has kind of been the theme of life with Finley.
My husband, David, and I had taken Finley out for a little alone time while we shopped for his brother’s birthday gifts. We listened to some Michael Jackson on the way (because he loves music, especially the King of Pop), Finley sang along in his little language of jibberish, and we went to Steak ‘n Shake for a little dinner before grabbing some birthday gifts.
Finley had a blast. He loved looking out the windows, playing with the little cardboard car, drawing circles, and sampling my milkshake.
He also loved the music playing in the restaurant and danced in his seat while he ate. At one point in his groovin’, he started groovin’ a little too enthusiastically and hit his head on the edge of the table.
Do you know what happened next? He immediately wrapped his arms around me and laid his head over on me as he cried.
Mole hill, right?
Nope. It was a mountain. And although my baby was crying and in pain, it was a glorious, beautiful mountain. I almost cried along with him, right there at the table, for a different reason. Finley sought comfort from me. That moment was a major milestone for us. Finley had never sought comfort from us before. He had never run to me to kiss a boo-boo. He had never crawled into my lap for a hug when he tripped and skinned his knee…or bumped his head…or smashed a finger. And although I had always had those responses from his brother, Gavin, in the past, I never realized how precious they were until I had a son with autism who didn’t do those things.
Finley has crossed a lot of mountains these last couple of years. He gives sloppy kisses without my having to ask for them. He wrestles with his big brother and pretends to be Iron Man. More often than not, he turns to look me in the eye when I call his name, and we go weeks at a time without major meltdowns. Just last week, Finley drank from a straw for the first time, and I cried tears of joy as a result. And although he still doesn’t communicate verbally, we sometimes recognize words like “dinosaur,” “dolphin,” and “shark,” and the tunes of songs that he loves to sing.
I’m spending more time these days focused on the things that Finley CAN do, not the things he can’t. Because let’s be real—when I think much about the fact that he doesn’t say “I love you,” I get a little down. But when Finley seeks comfort from me, he is telling me me he loves me. When Finley lays his sweet little head over in my lap…or falls asleep holding my hand…or locks his gaze with mine for longer than a second….I know he loves me. He can’t say it. But you know what he CAN do? He CAN show it. And he shows it in a hundred different ways every single day.
That’s more than a mountain, to me. That’s a miracle.